eido bombing 298 88.
(photo credit: AP)
Thousands of Lebanese bade farewell on Thursday to victims of a powerful car bombing that killed a prominent anti-Syrian legislator and nine other people as the government - reeling from another blow targeting its supporters - sought international help.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers and the international community to assist in the investigation of Walid Eido's assassination near a popular waterfront promenade in the Lebanese capital.
The bomb ripped through Eido's car Wednesday as he drove from a seaside sports club, also killing his 35-year-old son, two bodyguards and six passers-by.
Before noon Thursday, his body, that of his son and a bodyguard were taken in ambulances, covered with Lebanese flags, from the American University Hospital in West Beirut to the Verdun neighborhood where the slain politician lived.
The funeral procession went through the main thoroughfare of Corniche Mazraa in the Muslim sector, where pictures of the slain politicians were posted on walls and overpasses.
Saad Hariri, leader of the anti-Syrian majority bloc in parliament to which Eido belonged to, Druse politician Walid Jumblatt and other prominent anti-Syrian leaders marched behind the ambulances along with hundreds of people, with the crowds swelling as the procession went on.
Thousands of mourners gathered on the streets, waving Lebanese flags, those of the Hariri Future movement and banners of various Sunni factions. The crowds shouted the Islamic cry "There is no God but Allah" and slogans in support of their leaders.
Some applauded or blew whistles as the coffins drove through the packed street of Tarik Jadideh, a Sunni neighborhood loyal to Hariri that was the scene of fierce Sunni-Shi'ite street clashes in February.
As the motorcade arrived at the mosque at the Shohada Cemetery several kilometers away for a prayer service and interment, supporters carried the caskets, wrapped in Lebanese flags, inside.
The blast that killed Eido was a new blow to the stability of this conflict-torn nation.
It came just three days after the government, together with the United Nations, started putting together an international tribunal ordered by the UN Security Council to try suspects in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut two years ago - a move strongly opposed by Syria and its allies in Lebanon.
Eido was a prominent supporter of the tribunal, a staunch follower of Hariri and the seventh anti-Syrian figure killed in Lebanon in the past two years. Many in Lebanon have accused Syria of being behind the slayings, a claim Damascus denies.
Lebanon's majority coalition blamed Syria for Wednesday's assassination.
"This crime is a clear message from the Syrian regime to Lebanon in response to the creation of the international tribunal," said a statement by lawmaker Bassem Sabei.
"We shall not leave them the arena no matter how many fall; we will not abandon Beirut," said a defiant Saad Hariri, son of the slain former prime minister. Beirut "shall remain the capital of freedom, nationalism, Arabism and honor in the face of slaves of darkness, killers and terrorism."
Businesses, schools and government offices were closed Thursday after the government declared a day of national mourning.
The slaying was likely to further enflame Lebanon's bitter power struggle between Saniora's Western-backed government and its Syrian-backed opponents, led by Hizbullah.
Many fear the violence could push the polarized nation, with a fragile balance of ethnic and religious groups, into a new civil war. Eleven people have been killed in government-opposition clashes that took a sectarian Sunni-Shi'ite tone.
The United States - a major ally of Prime Minister Saniora - also condemned the bombing.